The Top 15 Stories of Ocean Beach and Point Loma in 2018

by on December 28, 2018 · 7 comments

in Ocean Beach

City Council hearing on short-term vacation rentals.

It’s the end of the year – a time when media and press pundits turn reflective and ponder the “best” or “most important” stories published over the last 12 months. After reviewing our archives from 2018, we’ve come up what we think are the “top stories” from OB and Point Loma for the year.

We mainly based the top stories on how significantly they impacted Ocean Beach and the rest of the Peninsula. And the stories include news, photos, analysis and opinions about real issues within these communities, a number of which have continued from last year. And a number will most certainly continue into the new year.

So, here they are, the top 15 stories – not in any precise order, but in some kind of semblance of importance.

(We did something very similar back in 2016 – check out our “Top 15 Stores of 2016“.)

Rally against STVRs in OB.

No. 1 – Short-Term Vacation Rentals

Any list of significant stories that had wide impacts to the beach area has to begin with short-term vacation rentals. The see-saw battle residents watched unfold over the last year between neighborhoods trying to save their declining housing stock and sense of community from outside investors and multi-million dollar corporations like Airbnb was a deep lesson in how money can affect politics.

Besieged by a variety of issues (see No. 2) OBceans were warned that they cannot forget about the devastation caused by STVRs. Apr. 11, 2018

Then in mid-June Mayor Faulconer released his half-hearted proposal to regulate the explosion of vacation rentals – June 14, 2018 which was met with a variety of opposition, including one OBcean’s critical thoughts and observations.  June 19, 2018

The OB Town Council geared up to oppose the Mayor’s proposal – June 28, 2018– as did a coalition of community groups principally  from the coast and beach neighborhoods.  July 11, 2018

While the city debated what many saw as a flawed plan, July 9, 2018  the stakes facing Ocean Beach were extremely high when the City Council held their hearing on STVRs on July 16 – July 12, 2018

And on that date a City Council bi-partisan majority – led by Councilwoman Barbara Bry of District 1 – amended the mayor’s plan enough that if looked like the coastal communities could be saved – July 16, 2018

Here are some observations of the City Council hearing on Short Term Rentals and the response from the Airbnb crowd – July 17, 2018 – July 20, 2018  And some OBceans attended the second reading of the new proposal. July 31, 2018

Then the pro-Airbnb forces struck back. One vacation rental mini-empire owner called for a ‘Firestorm of Anger’ to force the City Council to rescind their decision – July 25, 2018

Spending millions the Airbnb crowd hired an army of signature gatherers to force a petition to rescind the Council vote on STVRs, and employing deceptive tactics, garnered sufficient signatures to overturn the new plan. And then it was back to the wild west. See these:

  • Ocean Beach and Point Loma Residents Warned of Deceptive Pro-Airbnb Petition Gatherers – Aug 22, 2018
  • Proponents of Over-Turning City Council Vote on Short Term Vacation Rentals Turn Signatures into County Registrar – Sept. 1, 2018
  • City Council Rescinds Regulations on Short-Term Vacation Rentals – Oct. 22, 2018
  • San Diego Is Back to the ‘Wild, Wild West’ With Short-Term Vacation Rentals – Oct. 23, 2018

No. 2 – Scooters and Dockless Bikes

Another issue that changed the landscape at the beach and other areas of town was the unleashing of thousands of dockless bikes – and then after their demise – thousands of scooters came next. The sudden inundation of green and yellow bicycles – many rudely positioned in public right-of-ways, angered many OBceans – Feb. 23, 2018

And at an OB Town Council meeting about the dockless bikes, one company’s local general manager denied his lime-green bikes had been deployed in OB – Mar. 29, 2018  – despite spot-on photos of them around the community proving his misrepresentations. – Apr. 4, 2018

Then the scooters showed up en mass. People were using them without helmets, on the sidewalks and in all manners causing headaches for locals. Then in September, Los Angeles adopted reasonable rules for them – Sept. 13, 2018 and then Mayor Faulconer proposed his. – Oct. 19, 2018

As complaints about the reckless use of them continued, injuries mounted – and one death was recorded. The scooter wars continue – Dec. 13, 2018

No. 3 – Jen Campbell Defeats Lorie Zapf in District 2 Race

Truly, one of  the biggest stories to emerge from the year was the take over of the District 2 City Council seat by a Democrat. Democratic challenger Dr. Jen Campbell survived the Primary in June to take on incumbent Republican Lorie Zapf. June 6, 2018

Zapf had made herself vulnerable to blue-voting constituents. For example, she missed 3 District 2 Town Council Candidate Forums – May 8, 2018

As the November election bore down, her vulnerabilities became ever more visible. Not the least was her huge campaign warchest enabled by corporate and business interests. See these:

  • Climate Change and Lorie Zapf – Sept. 17, 2018
  • District 2 : Republican Zapf vs Democrat Dr. Jen – Is a Change Gonna Come? – Sept. 21, 2018
  • Donna Frye Endorses Dr. Jen Campbell for District 2 – Oct. 17, 2018
  • Follow the Money in the ‘Rough and Tumble Race’ Between Jen Campbell and Lorie Zapf for District 2 – Oct. 25, 2018
  • Dr. Jen Campbell’s Candidacy in District 2: Is She the Cure? – Oct. 27, 2018
  • The Sins of Councilwoman Lorie Zapf – Nov. 2, 2018

Campbell was victorious – Nov. 7, 2018 and a map of how Ocean Beach and Point Loma precincts voted showed where it happened – Nov. 8, 2018 And as it turns out, Campbell is only the 3rd Democrat elected to represent District 2 in over 40 Years – Nov. 12, 2018

No. 4 – Famosa Park & Bike Track

The story of the bike track and movement for Famosa Park began when back in mid-March some Peninsula parents blocked a bulldozer from tearing up a bike track on vacant land near Cleator Park – a track that had been used by kids and maintained by parents literally for decades. – Mar. 19, 2018

Then it snowballed and a fight for a local park for general public use and cyclists crystallized – Mar. 20, 2018 as it turned out the San Diego Housing Commission had ordered the destruction of the Famosa Bike Track  Mar. 20, 2018

The Housing Commission was moving on building 78 units on the land – which came as a total surprise to the local community and without their input. The Mayor’s Office stepped in and called for a “temporary hold” to any further disruption of the track – Mar. 21, 2018 – but by early April it appeared that the fight for it was over. – Apr. 6, 2018

Then over questions of property ownership, the bike track’s removal was halted, at least temporarily – Apr. 13, 2018 with the issue of the original landgrant of a park by DC Collier being raised in support of a Famosa park. – Apr. 20, 2018

See these:

  • Some History of the Land Where the Point Loma Bike Track Is Built – April 23, 2018
  • The History of DC Collier’s Gift of Land for ‘the Children’ and How It Impacts Famosa-Nimitz Proposed Development – Aug. 1, 2018

In June at a Peninsula Community Planning Board meeting with representatives from the Housing Commission, the controversy exploded, as the Commission accused Point Lomans of NIMBYism in opposing the huge housing project- June 19, 2018

In response to community opposition, the Peninsula Planning Board rescinded their 2017 letter advocating housing on the Famosa site – June 25, 2018 The controversy continued at the July Peninsula Community Planning Board Meeting – July 24, 2018

By October, it was clear that opponents of the housing plan had a petition in opposition and were collecting signatures – Oct. 2, 2018 and attempting to mount an effective campaign for the Famosa Canyon Open Space – Oct. 3, 2018 The issue came up again at the Peninsula Planners October meeting. – Oct. 23, 2018

No. 5 – Midway District Re-development

Leases on significant pieces of city-owned properties coming up for renewal – or not – and the Midway District Community Plan being updated – Mar. 27, 2018 and approved by the City Council became important factors to raise the question, “Is Massive, Re-development Coming to the Midway District?” – Feb. 13, 2018

9,000 new units and possibly as many as 23,000 new residents were part of the new updated plan – but without adequate infrastructure to accompany the changes. Plus it appeared the City was poised to dismantle the 30 foot height limit in the Midway in order to allow an era of massive redevelopment – May 15, 2018

The impact of the redevelopment on OB and Point Loma would be substantial.  July 27, 2018 So, see these:

  • Reader Rant: ‘Point Loma Cannot Afford More Development Without Infrastructure and Water Improvements’ – June 19, 2018
  • Planners’ Meeting Heats Up Over Housing Numbers for Midway Community Plan – June 26, 2018
  • Midway Planners Frustrated by Approval Process for Community Plan Update – July 23, 2018
  • Midway District Is Now Ready for Massive Redevelopment, 9,000 New Units and 23,000 New Residents – Sept. 20, 2018
  • Ball Starts to Roll on Redeveloping Navy’s SPAWAR Property at Midway Planners’ Meeting – Oct. 24, 2018

No. 6 – Development Projects in OB & Point Loma

It seemed like during 2018 construction projects were everywhere around OB and Point Loma. New commercial buildings are being built from the ground up on Newport Avenue and on Santa Monica and Cable, while a mixed-use project on Santa Monica appeared to flout height limits (it doesn’t). New residential condos were thrown up on Brighton and Ebers. 3-story units were going in despite their uncharacteristic plight.

Since most of these projects are ongoing as we enter the new year, their total impact has not been experienced as yet by neighbors and locals. But the story of these developments is still significant to make the list. See these:

  • Updates on Two Construction Projects in Ocean Beach: on 5000 Santa Monica and 5100 Brighton Blocks – Mar. 23, 2018
  • Update on Project Progress in Ocean Beach – Oct. 16, 2018
  • A Panoply of Puzzling Projects to Ponder in Ocean Beach – Nov. 28, 2018

No. 7 – Saving the North Chapel at Liberty Station & Liberty Station Lease Sales

The battle to preserve the North Chapel at Liberty Station makes our list – Mar. 26, 2018 and Apr. 6, 2018 as the issue has morphed now into a larger one about the mismanagement of leases by McMillian Company.

There appeared during last summer a chance the North Chapel would have a reprieve – July 31, 2018 but that fell through as McMillin’s threats became more real. See “North Chapel Preservationists Are Ringing the Bell – McMillin Has Leased Site and ‘Remodel’ Begins in New Year – Oct. 11, 2018

Then Congressman Peters and Councilwoman Bry jumped into the fray, as the Mayor and Zapf fumbled the ball. Rep. Peters Calls on Mayor and Zapf to Investigate McMillion’s Management of North Chapel in Liberty Station – News, Nov. 15, 2018

  • After Inaction by Mayor and Zapf, Bry Requests City Attorney Investigation of North Chapel and Liberty Station – Nov. 19, 2018
  • Here is Councilwoman Bry’s Memo to City Attorney Requesting Investigation Into McMillin’s Lease and North Chapel – Nov. 21, 2018

The news broke last month that the Liberty Station leases had been sold to a Michigan group and the fate of North Chapel was still in doubt despite the Mayor’s assurances. – Nov. 29, 2018 and  – Nov. 30, 2018

No. 8 – Target Moving into OB

After last year’s campaign – which included rallies, a march and multiple town hall meetings mainly in opposition – to a mini-Target moving into the former Antique Center on Newport petered out, the tenants were moved out and new construction has begun. But not before controversies over parking agreements and lack of community input were raised. See these:

  • To Get Their Ocean Beach Building Permitted by City, Target Agrees to Close by 5 PM – Apr. 20, 2018
  • Antique Center in Ocean Beach to Close April 15 Making Way for Target Express – Apr. 10, 2018
  • It’s ‘Official’ – Target Says It Will Open Store in Ocean Beach on Newport Avenue – Nov. 1, 2018\
  • Without Community Input, City Rescinds and Approves Different Parking Agreements So Target Can Open in Ocean Beach – Dec. 5, 2018

No. 9 – Long Branch Torrey Pine

In early July, residents of the 4600 block of Long Branch woke up to the City getting its contractor ready to chop down a large Torrey Pine on the block. Neighbors stopped the work, but it was the same Torrey the community had saved 7 years ago. – July 5, 2018 It had been designated as a Heritage Tree which is supposed to give it some protection – July 5, 2018

OB has a representative on the City’s Urban Forestry Advisory Board and the Board tried to slow down the buzz saws until it had time to review the city arborist’s report. – Nov. 15, 2018

But the community felt outrage and that the City wasn’t listening to Ocean Beach about the Torrey Pine – Nov. 19, 2018

Finally, after the pushback, the city forester relented – at least temporarily. See these:

  • Letter to City Arborist From Ocean Beach Biologist About the Long Branch Torrey Pine – Nov. 20, 2018
  • City Forester Agrees to Keep Long Branch Torrey Pine – and Make ‘Corrective Measures’ – Nov. 27, 2018
  • Matt Madruga and the Long Branch Torrey Pine – Sept. 4, 2018

No. 10 – Nati’s Closure & New Business

The closing of one of OB’s most iconic restaurants – Nati’s – captured the attention of locals for a good part of the year. There was much confusion at first, because the owners of the Pie Shop refused for many months to confirm they were moving in.  Jan. 25, 2018

Questions arose as to whether the buildings would be demolished, as some historians considered them to be historic and built by a famous architect. In the end, history didn’t matter and progress was coming. As an aside, many locals professed a love for Nati’s as it held many a memory for them. Others complained about the food and couldn’t understand the nostalgia.

Review these:

  • Will Nati’s Buildings Be Demolished? Historians Scramble to Save ‘Eclectic’ Design of Famous Architect – Mar. 16, 2018
  • Effort to Save Ocean Beach Architecture of Nati’s Buildings at Historic Resources Board – June 26, 2018
  • Last Call at Nati’s in Ocean Beach – June 21, 2018
  • Nati’s Has Closed for Good – But What Will Happen to the Historic Buildings? – June 8, 2018
  • It’s True After All – Pop Pie Moving Into Former Nati’s – Oct. 15, 2018

No. 11 – SeaWorld Troubles & Issues

Even though it’s outside OB and the Peninsula, SeaWorld holds a certain place for locals and its issues and troubles have been of concern over the years – so it makes our list. The aquatic park has experienced falling attendance records for years after opposition developed over its treatment of the Orcas in captivity.

Here’s a sampling of this year’s eye on SeaWorld:

  • SeaWorld and Evans Cement Deal to Build Hotel at SeaWorld Despite Buried Waste Dump – Mar. 2, 2018
  • Under Crashing Attendance Numbers and SEC Investigation, SeaWorld Opens Up New Thrill Ride in San Diego – Apr. 16, 2018
  • Swimming with SeaWorld’s Captive Dolphins – Apr. 20, 2018
  • If Judge Kavanaugh Is Confirmed, SeaWorld Will Have a Friend on the Supreme Court – July 12, 2018
  • SeaWorld Ends Deal With Evans to Build a Hotel in Mission Bay – Nov. 26, 2018

No. 12 – The Coming of the Granny Flats

The State of California passed a new law which allows so-called “companion units” or “granny flats” a renewal of life by undercutting certain restrictions, like parking. And because of the change, local planning boards are being inundated with proposed granny flats. They will most definitely be with us next year as their effect is just now being felt. See these:

  • Are Granny Flats the Future of Ocean Beach and Point Loma? – June 25, 2018
  • OB Planners Approve 2 Granny Flats – Aug. 2, 2018
  • Peninsula Planners Demonstrate the Effects of New ‘Granny Flat’ Law – Nov. 27, 2018

No. 13 – Changing of the Guard in OB Organizations

Even though not much has been made of it, we think it significant that both OB’s most grassroots organizations – the OB Town Council and the OB Planning Board – had abrupt leadership changes. The changing of the guard for these 2 very important groups means OBceans have new leaders that they don’t really know. So the OB Rag tried to change that. See:

  • Mark Winkie Is New President of Ocean Beach Town Council – Marcus Turner Resigns Due to Out-of-Town Employment – Nov. 9, 2018
  • Changing of the Guard in Ocean Beach: Meet the Leaders of the OB Town Council and the OB Planning Board – Dec. 12, 2018

No. 14 – Continuing Deaths and Severe Injuries Around Sunset Cliffs

The continuing deaths and injuries from falls off Sunset Cliffs or by surfers in their water made our list. It’s unfortunate but people die and suffer major injuries from careless behavior or other dangerous activities around these beautiful cliffs.

  • 2018 Has Had Higher Death and Seriously Injured Rate from Sunset Cliffs than Average Year Since 2005 – Dec. 11, 2018
  • KUSI Picked Up Our Story About Deaths and Serious Injuries at Sunset Cliffs for 2018 – But Got It Wrong – Dec. 13, 2018

No. 15 – Saving Kellogg Beach

Last on our list is the ongoing efforts to save Kellogg Beach over on the bay-side of the Point from development. It’s supporters have made some progress – News, Mar. 23, 2018

So, that’s it dear reader. You may not agree with these listed or disagree as to their order. Let us know. What story from 2018 did we miss or what story that we included is unworthy?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

bobo December 28, 2018 at 4:36 pm

Frank; If I were able to edit this list, I’d add the murder of OB street person “Raz” to this list. I believe it affected many in a bad way since he was well-known and liked around the Newport corridor. His murder was senseless and sad.


Frank Gormlie December 29, 2018 at 6:43 am

bobo, thanks. I did consider this sad event, however Raz was killed in 2017 whereas a suspect in his murder was arrested in early 2018.


Bobo December 29, 2018 at 11:39 pm

You’re right! 2017. Time flies


Frank Gormlie December 29, 2018 at 7:14 am
Frank Gormlie December 29, 2018 at 7:15 am
TD December 31, 2018 at 5:00 pm

This is a great list and all items are so substantial to our community. Thanks for recap.


Frank Gormlie January 3, 2019 at 2:25 pm

More concerns re sale of leases at Liberty Station.


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